A couple minutes with Nature Coast rising senior OLB/RB Richard Hart, who is expected to fill the Sharks' leadership void with QB/WR Ja'Juan Story on his way to Florida and 1,300-yard rusher Ike Bailey also graduating.
For the first time in a while, Nature Coast isn't considered the best team in Hernando County. What is the team's attitude going into this spring?
We just have to go hard and win games. That all starts now. We know that people expect us to win games just because we're Nature Coast. We can't worry about that. We just go out there and play to the best of our abilities. We know we have a good team. It's all about working hard and making sure we're ready for the challenge.
The biggest issue last season seemed to be question marks at quarterback. Coach Mark Nash's offense is notorious for being complex. Do you think that the position will be more stable?
We might have a pretty good solution with (Thomas) Carney (Sharks' JV starter last season). He's picking up everything real quick. I think we just need some stability back there, and we'll be okay.
Now that you'll be in a position of leadership, does that put any added pressure on you?
I haven't been asked to do anything like this since I was at Powell (Middle School), but I am comfortable with it. The guys respect me. I don't yell or go crazy or anything like that. I try to lead by example. I wouldn't want anybody all up in my face, so I don't do that to them. My cousin (rising senior lineman) Darius Stewart backs me up, so it helps to have someone right by my side.
Calling in the troops
Some familiar faces were seen assisting first-year Gulf coach Tom Carter this week, including Bucs athletic director Travis DeWalt, Gulf girls basketball coach Mike Quarto and former River Ridge coach Tim Stevens. DeWalt said he and Quarto were temporarily helping out until Carter could round out his coaching staff. Only wide receivers coach Robin Burge remains from Ken Hollar's 2010 staff at Gulf.
"I feel pretty good about our balance and having the athletes to compete. We're in a little tougher district now, but by no means are we going to be the walkover game anymore. The opponent is going to know they had a game with this good group of kids." - River Ridge first-year coach Gary Allen
Recruiting is starting to heat up at Pasco, as newly appointed University of Florida running backs coach Brian White stopped by the Pirates' practice Wednesday evening to check out rising seniors QB Jacob Guy, ATH Trey Dudley-Giles and rising junior RB/WR Janarion Grant, according to athletic director Jim Ward.
Giles, who owns offers from Rutgers and FAU, is looking to add a few more to his resume, and Guy, who threw for 29 touchdowns last fall, is still searching for his first D-I offer.
Sunlake offensive lineman Nate McCoole, a second-team all-Sunshine Athletic Conference selection last season, will move from tackle to center. McCoole has the size (6-1, 310 pounds) to catch the attention of recruiters but most project the rising senior to play an interior line position because of his height. Sunlake returns three of five starters from an O-line that generated nearly 2,200 rushing yards in 2010.
What they're saying
Every day, we pose a question to our readers on our Facebook page. They're keen to offer their two cents … and we're printing the best responses.
Thursday's question: The pads go on today. Who's the first person you plan to take down?
- I'm calling out and leveling the player I think is my biggest competition for a position because I'm trying to prove to the coaches I am the best at what I do. - Richard Devin Greene
Next up: Who's the biggest, nastiest offensive lineman this spring, and why does he strike fear in opponents' wee little hearts?
What's your call? Go here, become a fan and give us your thoughts.
Compiled by staff writer Bryan Burns and correspondents Andy Villamarzo and Derek J. LaRiviere.